Documentary: Station 58
Duration: 40 minutes for television
Media: Local and International broadcast/Online film festivals
During the filming of Earthquake Diaries in 2005, Azfar Rizvi witnessed first-hand how Pakistan’s firefighters played an integral role in the rescue and relief efforts of those afflicted by the devastating South Asian quake, and decided that he would do something for them. He spoke extensively, on several news channels, of the bravery exhibited by the firemen and tried to raise awareness of their plight.
His idea of making a documentary on the lives of these firemen had initially been turned down by a local news channel. Undeterred Azfar got in touch with reporters from Hyderabad and Karachi and photographed fires that had taken place in these two cities. In three months had enough data to create a visual proposal that was enough to convince the management of the channel on green-lighting a documentary on firemen in Pakistan.
In preparation for the documentary, Azfar spent five days living at the Al Markaz fire station in Karachi in order to fully understand in what conditions the firemen worked. He spent time talking to the firemen and began to understand what it really meant to be a part of a fireman’s family. “They spoke about how difficult it is for them and their families because their families know that they may not come back for their evening meal,” said Azfar, “and I felt this was a great injustice on our part. By ‘our’ I mean our part of the citizenry does not acknowledge these guys for what they are doing.”
On January 15, 2007, eight firemen were buried and burned alive in a cotton factory at the Site Industrial Area of Karachi. Station 58 explores the peril the firemen were in while fighting the fire and how some of them barely managed to escape death. It deals with the emotional turmoil the family of a fireman goes through every time he is engaged in the line of duty.
Station 58 includes first-hand accounts by professional firemen of devastating fires that not only endangered their lives and those of their colleagues, but also affected them on an emotional level in terms of the human devastation that they had caused. They remember colleagues that died during rescue efforts and speak candidly about the uncertainty of their lives and the lack of basic medical services that they get.
Station 58 sheds light on the incredible motivation and generosity of the human spirit that is required to be a fireman and what truly makes them Pakistan’s unsung heroes.